Last edited 02 Mar 2020


A tree is a plant that is characterised by its elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches, and (in most species) leaves. Trees can vary greatly depending on geographic region and climate. Trees can live for a long time, some for thousands of years.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide during their growth and store it until they decay or are burned. This makes timber a sustainable material, as its net environmental impact is zero (excluding processing, transport etc impacts).

In case law a tree has been defined for planning purposes as anything that would ‘ordinarily be regarded as a tree. Thus, it would not include a shrub, a bush or scrub.’

Trees can be protected in law by tree preservation orders, or by being in a conservation area. In this case, a tree is considered to be a stem with a diameter of more than 75mm when measured at 1.5 metres up the stem. For more information see: Definition of tree for planning purposes.

Articles about trees on Designing Buildings Wiki include: